Milicic names Young Socceroos squad for AFC U19 Championship assault

Milicic names Young Socceroos squad for AFC U19 Championship assault

Melbourne City's Moudi Najjar

Young Socceroos Head Coach Ante Milicic has named his 23-player squad for the upcoming 2019 AFC U19 Championships in Indonesia.

Coming off the heels of Friday’s Socceroos squad announcement that included phenoms Daniel Arzani and Denis Genreau, Milicic – who also serves as an assistant with the senior men’s side under Head Coach Graham Arnold – has included 17 players attached to A-League sides within his squad, with the six others all attached to European based clubs.

Led by 2017-18 breakout A-League performer Nathaniel Atkinson, Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers’ academies are the two most well represented amongst the playing group, with both clubs contributing six players each to the 23 named.

Of the other A-League clubs, Brisbane Roar, Sydney FC, Adelaide United, Perth Glory and the Newcastle Jets will all send a single representative.

Past Melbourne Victory prospects Christian Theoharous (Borussia Monchengladbach) and Seb Pasquali (Who has been playing centre back and defensive midfield with Ajax) have also both been selected by Milicic; Theoharous having made a single appearance for Monchengladbach’s reserves this season and Pasquali most recently playing 77 minutes in a 3-0 Jong Ajax loss to FC Eindhoven’s reserves.

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Former Sydney FC youngster John Iredale (SC Heerenveen), Ben Folami (Ipswich), Con Ouzounidis (Everton), and Dylan Ryan (Willem II) complete the foreign-based contingent.

The 23-player squad will provide hopes to observers of Australian that have decried the lack of a clear, goalscoring threat at a senior level in recent times; with a number of the players named looming as potential future Socceroos number nines.

Ben Folami (Right) in action with Ipswich Town’s senior side during the 2017-18 Championship Season

The likes of John Roberts (Western Sydney Wanderers), Moudi Najjar (Melbourne City) and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos (Adelaide United) have all been consistent performers for their clubs at a senior NPL and Y-League level – Stamatelopoulos even starting two senior games for the Reds in 2017-18 – and Iredale and Folami score with regularity for their clubs academy sides in the Netherlands and England.

Iredale’s time in De Superfriezen’s system has been so impressive that he earned a call-up to Arnold’s first camp with the Socceroos in September.

Melbourne City’s James Delianov – already identified as a future Socceroos number one by many – will likely enter camp as the favourite to start between the posts, but can expect stiff competition from Duro Dragicevic (Sydney FC) and Macklin Freke (Brisbane Roar) should he waver.

Playing out a 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar behind closed doors on Thursday, the Young Socceroos will need head to Singapore for a camp and series of friendlies, preparations Milicic emphasised the importance of following the squad’s announcement.

“The upcoming AFC U19 Championship in Indonesia represents a great opportunity for this group of players to be exposed to international football,” Milicic said.

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“During our camp in Singapore, we will look to add to the work that we did while on the Sunshine Coast, and earlier in the year during our camp on the Central Coast.

Former Melbourne Victory starlet Christian Theoharous will be hoping to use a strong championships to propel him to greater things with Borussia Mönchengladbach

“Our camp in Singapore will include matches against leading Malaysian club side Johor Darul Ta’zim across the causeway on 11 October and Singapore’s U21 National Team four days later, which will help us to prepare for the tournament in Indonesia.”

The Young Socceroos will open their AFC U19 Championship campaign against South Korea on 19 October at the Patriot Chandrabhaga Stadium. Fixtures against Vietnam on 22 October and Jordan on 25 October will then follow, with Milicic’s side needing to advance to the semifinals of the tournament to qualify for the U20 World Cup in Poland next year.

Australia last qualified for the world’s premier U20 showcase in 2013; when a squad featuring the likes of Jamie Maclaren, Josh Brilliante, Paul Izzo, Daniel De Silva and Adam Taggart were bundled out of the tournament in the group stages after only being able to secure a single point in games against Colombia, El Salvador and Turkey.

Young Socceroos 23-player squad 

Name Current Club, Country
Nathaniel ATKINSON Melbourne City FC, Australia
Joshua CAVALLO Melbourne City FC, Australia
Mathieu CORDIER Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia
James DELIANOV (Gk) Melbourne City FC, Australia
Duro DRAGICEVIC (Gk) Sydney FC, Australia
Gengba Tai (Ben) FOLAMI Ipswich Town FC, England
Macklin FREKE (Gk) Brisbane Roar FC, Australia
Kosta GROZOS Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia
John IREDALE SC Heerenveen, Netherlands
Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia
Moudi NAJJAR Melbourne City FC, Australia
Ramy NAJJARINE Melbourne City FC, Australia
Con OUZOUNIDIS Everton FC, England
Sebastian PASQUALI AFC Ajax, Netherlands
Dylan PIERIAS Melbourne City FC, Australia
Oliver PUFLETT Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia
John ROBERTS Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia
Tate RUSSELL Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia
Dylan RYAN Willem II, Netherlands
Walter SCOTT Perth Glory FC, Australia
Apostolos STAMATELOPOULOS Adelaide United, Australia
Christian THEOHAROUS Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany
Angus THURGATE Newcastle Jets, Australia